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Varsity Cup to test run possibly the most bizarre rules ever trialled

By Online Editors

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The Varsity Cup Competition, contested by the top rugby-playing universities in South Africa, is set to trial a new Power Play system next year. This play will allow captains to remove any two nominated backline players from the opposition for a three-minute period.


The Power Play can only be called by a team while in their own half, must be called by the captain, and can only be called once. If the team whose players have been removed score a try during the Power Play period, they are awarded an extra two points, giving them seven points before the conversion is taken.


Former World Cup winner with South Africa and currently a coach at the University of Western Cape, Chester Williams, has given the new trial his full support.

“The new rule will be good for players, coaches and, most of all, spectators going into next year’s competition, as it keeps the game fresh,” Williams said. “Power Play will really keep the game fluid and allow for some innovative thinking from the coaches. It will be tactically and strategically challenging for all of the coaches, and will be interesting to see how other coaches react.”

Duitser Bosman, CEO of Varsity Cup and Varsity Shield also believes the new rule can benefit the game, ‘yellow and red cards are such integral aspects of rugby, yet players and coaches worldwide struggle to deal with the change in personnel.

“This innovative new rule will foster a generation of rugby players who will be able to defend with fewer teammates on the field and will know how to fully utilise a numerical advantage.”


The Varsity Cup has been home to a number of different trials in recent years, including the introduction of nine-point tries in 2016, where if a try began between the half-way line and the opponent’s 22 – and possession was maintained from start to finish – a team would receive two additional points.

Other experiments in the past have also included a ‘free-catch rule’, allowing players to call a mark anywhere on the field anytime they caught a kick, while throughout 2014 and 2015 matches featured two referees on the field working in tandem.

The Varsity Cup will kick off on 29 January and while some other unions have shown mild interest in the new Power Play it remains to be seen if these new ideas will take off.


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